A week of KDE4 usage
1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Tue May 10 05:43:07 BST 2011
Alex Schuster posted on Tue, 10 May 2011 01:49:49 +0200 as excerpted:
> [Oh, this has become rather lengthy. It's a description of my various
> problems with KDE4, the details are not so important, no need to read it
> all. My question is: Are your experiences similar to mine?]
I read it all, because I'm interested in such things, but I snipped the
list, as replying to all the individual items wasn't the point.
> I'm somewhat diesappointed with KDE4. I'm using it since 4.2, and it's
> become much much better - but still, there are just so many bugs. Is it
> just me, or it this normal? Would you suggest other people (being
> unskilled uses, not hackers) to use KDE4? What OS and desktop
> environment does your Mom's PC run?
With kde4 it has been made /very/ apparent that the kde devs simply aren't
interested in creating a "just works" desktop for ordinary users, or even
ordinary /power/ users. If they were, they would NOT have insisted 4.2
was ready for ordinary users, when it /very/ clearly was still alpha
quality at best -- huge gaps of missing functionality, and bugs with the
devs saying that's not implemented yet, so it's not as if they weren't
/aware/ of the problem, what was there often broken, good as a technology
preview, but not for use by people actually wanting to get stuff done.
Yet they INSISTED it was ready for ordinary users! And were they
interested in normal users, they'd have not dropped support for the stable
kde3 at the same time, when kde4 clearly wasn't ready.
So it's quite clear that the kde folk would rather simply have people who
just want things to work, move on to other desktop environments and quit
bothering the kde folks.
The same message comes thru when one considers the official name change,
from kde, to "The KDE Software Collection". "Nobody"'s going to use that
in normal usage, or even the shorter KDE-SC, for the same reason "nobody"
uses GNU/Linux in normal usage -- it's too long and inconvenient to say,
however correct it arguably may be. But further, looking at the PR for
the name change, it again becomes apparent that they're simply no longer
targeting the ordinary end user, but rather, now, they consider
developers, etc, their target. I remember wondering about the name
change, until after reading the announcement, it hit me -- the were no
longer focused on the ordinary end user and the name change, adding
"Software Collection" was aimed at making the platform more inviting to
developers, etc, who could build upon that collection, using it as a basis
for their own apps and possibly their own platforms, etc.
Now, arguably (and I've repeatedly made this point myself so I obviously
argue it to be so), by later 4.5, say 4.5.4 and 4.5.5, KDE (um... KDE-SC)
had improved to the point that it was ready for what /should/ have been
the official 4.0 release -- had it been aimed at ordinary users. But
again, it's NOT aimed at ordinary users any more. So what they called
4.0, which they clearly labeled as developer-only, freezing the libraries
but with a barely functional UI skeleton over top, really /WAS/ a .0
release IF YOU'RE TARGETING THE DEVELOPER AUDIENCE FOR WHOM A LIBRARY
FREEZE IS SIGNIFICANT.
Looked at thru that filter, the filter of who their actual target audience
is, now, all the rest begins to fall into place and make a WHOLE lot more
Now, it's possible some will argue with that viewpoint. But, I'd simply
point at the facts. How /else/ can they be reasonably interpreted? Given
the facts on the ground, the actual actions, tt /certainly/ makes more
sense for KDE (KDE-SC) to be targeting developers than it does for them to
be targeting ordinary users. There may be other explanations, but I've
yet to see any others that even remotely matches the facts as good as this
You and I are both Gentoo users. I make it a point to read the Gentoo-dev
list, and occasionally find myself pointing out yet again that Gentoo has
never been about hand-holding/baby-sitting the user. Gentoo does try to
provide good documentation, but if there's a choice between making a
choice available that a user could hurt themselves with if they don't heed
the news pre-warnings and post-install log-warnings, and Gentoo main site
announcements, and... and..., and hiding that choice to protect the user
at the expense of making Gentoo far less flexible (tho there are certain
limits), time and again, Gentoo chooses to make that choice available, and
if the user breaks their system because they couldn't follow the clear
warnings and instructions, well, they get to keep the pieces.
In that regard Gentoo's nothing like the hand-holding distros that Ubuntu
and the like try to be, nor SHOULD we be, nor SHOULD WE TRY to be. Gentoo
has its own niche, and fills it quite well. It's not for everyone and we
don't pretend that it is. If people find it too difficult, etc, well,
there's other distros out there, and we're happy enough to point them to a
few of them.
KDE has always been that way to some degree as well. It has always
exposed way more config options than the "protect the user from his stupid
self" Gnome, for instance, and has regularly gotten called for "all those
Fine, there are other desktops out there. If a user just wants it to work
and doesn't want to be confused or scared by all those options, that's
fine. There's desktops for that. KDE has never been one of them. FWIW,
this is what all the folks who want a unified "One true desktop Linux
experience" miss. The GNOME folks are HAPPY not to have the KDE guys
there adding all those confusing options, while the KDE guys (both devs
and users, BTW) are HAPPY to refer people who want to take away the
ability to so heavily customize, over to the GNOME folks. If they were
forced to make a single desktop, they'd always be fighting each other and
little would get done. People would drop out as a result, and go do
something else (like create another alternative desktop) with their after
all volunteer time. This is part of the POWER of FLOSS, *NOT* the
weakness so many see it as.
In a way, this evolution of KDE could be seen as taking that philosophy to
the next level. KDE will continue on, pressing into new territory,
perhaps never really stabilizing things, but that's fine. They're a
"software collection" targeted at the developer that knows how to deal
with such things.
And... I'll probably be one of those who sticks with them, because while
I'm not a dev, I'm computer oriented enough to like the customization kde
offers, and to take the bugs, now that they've gotten kde4 to a generally
usable state, in stride.
OTOH, I've not seen nearly the number of bugs you apparently have. We may
use the same distro, but my usage patterns and hardware are obviously
different. And the bugs I DO see, I've been able to work around, or, in
the first time for kde4, I've actually git-bisect a bug down to a specific
commit, file the bug both upstream with kde and with gentoo, and using
that commit to generate a reversing patch, I now have that applied to the
kde-base/plasma-workspace-4.6.3 I have presently installed. I expect
that'll continue working thru the 4.6 series if they don't fix it, and by
4.7, hopefully, it /will/ be fixed, or if not, hopefully the patch will
continue to apply, possibly with a tweak or two.
Meanwhile, the gap left by the former KDE, kde3, the one with all those
power-user options but at the same time having matured into something
reasonably stable, was pretty large. The Trinity project has taken up
where KDE dropped it, and is now porting what was kde3 to qt4 (since qt3
is long EOLed by its people). Will they be successful enough at it to
make it the big-two (kde/gnome) into the big-three (adding trinity)?
Chances are they won't. But there's a much better chance they'll turn the
big-four (including xfce and lxde) into the big-five, or the big-five
(including enlightenment) into the big-six. The big question is at what
point are they big enough for the distributions to start carrying them?
Because if they fail to reach that, then they'll almost certainly remain a
minor footnote at best. The /problem/ is that being a full desktop not
just a window manager with a few compatible toys to go with it, they're
rather bigger package-size-wise than the other relative minors, the *box
family, icewm, fvwm, and the like. As such, that's a rather larger
investment for the distros to make, to ship and support all the packages
that make up trinity, the former kde3. So the bar to having trinity
shipped by the distros is rather higher. (Additionally, there's likely to
be some political fallout particularly in Islamic countries, etc, based on
the name... unless they change it, of course, but to what? Krusader, the
dual-pane kde file manager, must have had similar issues, possibly keeping
it out of contention for inclusion in kde proper, for political/religious
reasons.) But they NEED to get there, because that's how one gets the
continual influx of new users discovering the software, keeping it viable
longer term, after the interest of the original devs ultimately fades.
As to the what does your mom run question...
I'm a confirmed Linux-head, but I realized some time ago that I don't make
a very good Linux missionary for the masses, because I'm far too tech (and
freedom) oriented. As you mentioned was your experience with kde4, not
being able to recommend it to others based on what they see you dealing
with, that's pretty much what I've found to be the case in general with
Linux. I *CHOOSE* to run Gentoo. It takes me HOURS to build install a
KDE update that binary distributions install in fractions of an hour. I
won't (legally can't, because I can't agree to the EULAs, which are
binding enough here in the US to at minimum be a legal issue) install
servantware. As such, no flash (gnash works sometimes, sometimes not,
youtube and certain other sites there's downloaders for, and I can play
the videos in smplayer, vlc, or whatever), no nvidia or ati proprietary
drivers, etc. My dad sends me *.ppt files from time to time that I don't
have the software installed to open. Sometimes I spend weeks tracing down
a kernel bug in a prerelease kernel I'm running... etc.
So while I'd /like/ to be a Linux missionary, in general, I don't bother,
because most of the time I'd be rather convincing people that it's not for
them. I /could/ learn how Ubuntu works, etc, and thus be a rather more
effective missionary, but that's not interesting to me, so I don't.
My mom doesn't do computers much, but my dad does reasonably well for a
guy in his 70s that didn't work with computers in his career. However,
they live several states away and I'm not as close to them as I might be.
Fortunately, my sister and her family live next door, and she's quite good
with computers, using them in her publishing job. But AFAIK, it's all
servantware, and that's what my dad uses, too. That used to bother me,
but the fact is, I'm /not/ a particularly good missionary for Linux, and
being as far from them as I am, I finally decided it's best just to let
them be with what they know.
Duncan - List replies preferred. No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman
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